Upper Maastrichtian calcareous nannofossil assemblages, from eight cores on the South Carolina Coastal Plain (onshore set) and three deep sea drilling sites from the continental slope and abyssal hills (offshore set), were analyzed by correlation and principal component analysis to examine the ancient surface water thermal structure. In addition, a temperature index derived from independently published paleobiogeographic information was applied to the sample data. All three methods indicate a strong separation of the samples into onshore and offshore sets, with the offshore data set exhibiting significantly warmer paleotemperatures. The great disparity between these two sample sets indicates that there was a strong thermal contrast between the onshore and offshore surface water masses that persisted throughout the late Maastrichtian despite evident shortterm changes in fertility, productivity, and community structure. This suggests the Gulf Stream was present as a major oceanographic feature during the late Maastrichtian. Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union.